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May 6, 2012 / Jess

It’s Strange, The Things You Miss

Dear Army,

My soldier took an Army Physical Fitness Test this weekend. We’ll skip past the part where taking an APFT while you’re already in-country makes no logical sense – they should have taken it long before they deployed if it was really intended to see who was fit to fight. That type of absurdity just makes my head hurt. I prefer to tackle the stuff that makes my heart hurt.

I often deal with this deployment through education. He can offer no real information, both because it’s classified and because our communication is limited and I’d rather spend the few times we can talk making him crazy by interrupting every sentence with “I love you!” or “You appreciate me, right?” … clearly productive stuff that probably annoys the other soldiers around – and him. So in my free time I read manuals and military literature, I read articles and watch miniseries like Generation Kill. In case anyone’s wondering, what I’ve learned so far is that soldiers swear a lot and have detailed discussions about bowel movements.

But sometimes I want to connect emotionally, not just intellectually, to what he’s going through – like on Saturday. So I turned to his blog because I knew he had an entry about APFTs – you can read it here. He wrote that entry a few days before we met. I read it long before I knew we had potential; it seemed far more interesting to me than the homemade monster movies he kept insisting I watch.

It’s strange, reading his words that I first read as a stranger through the filter of being his girlfriend. It took me back to that silly and difficult time where we tried to get to know each other. I’ve been stuck there in my mind for the last 24 hours.

As I looked over to the window in my apartment this morning and saw the sun streaming in, I remembered how window treatments almost caused me to give up this relationship before it really started – which was totally your fault, Army.

My soldier is finicky about blinds.

He likes them closed. Pretty much all the time, regardless of what you’re doing. When it’s sunny out, when it’s not –  they should be properly closed. I couldn’t care less. Yes, I get it – people can see into my apartment. I shut them before I go to bed at night. That’s about the extent of my concern about it. I prefer to see the sun or the rain, the trees moving in the wind or the snow piling onto my car. I like to watch the sun set from the comfort of my couch.

There were many times that we’d be in the middle of a conversation, and he’d be distracted that my blinds were open. He’d sometimes stop listening all together until we corrected the issue. One time, as he arranged the blinds to his liking, he said it was because he liked his privacy. I asked him if he had always been this way – he said no.

I suspected – and still do – that this had less to do with privacy and more to do with war. He is a far more open person than I am; he is outgoing and good at small talk. He lived without privacy for a long time, and he was about to again. Yet he now cherished privacy in his surroundings to the point where it seemed mildly obsessive – and definitely annoying.

This is the first of many battle scars, I thought to myself. There will only be more – and I’m already annoyed by this small, subtle thing. I felt weak and sick, like a failure of a human being because an understandable emotional response on his behalf felt like a nuisance. He’s a veteran, for Christ’s sake, I thought, willing myself to be a better, more understanding person. Stop being such a jerk.

From that point on, I just shut the blinds before he got to my place. It was never an issue again.

Now that he’s gone, my blinds are open almost all the time. As I type this, the sun is streaming into my living room. But when he was here, even with the blinds closed, my room – and I – lit up. Natural light just doesn’t compare.

I really miss him.

(Not) love,

Jess

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